The year was 2007. The Dungeon and Dragon magazine license had just ended, and all of us in the Editorial Pit were sweating bullets over this new baby called Pathfinder Adventure Path—a baby that was going to need to grow up and get a job quick so that we could all keep paying rent. The first volume had already been put to bed, and we were trying to figure out what to do going forward with this section we'd put in the back called the Pathfinder's Journal. The first volume had featured an overview of the Pathfinder Society, written by Erik Mona, but now we were thinking about Ed Greenwood's old Volo's Guides and wondering if maybe this section could be a chance for us to introduce some fun first-person, journal-style adventure fiction to help show off our new campaign setting. We had a half-empty map of Varisia, a handful of proper nouns, and a couple of characters name-dropped in the first article—Pathfinder Eando Kline and Venture-Captain Shevala. What more did we need?
Since we were short on time, Jason Bulmahn and I wrote the second and third entries simultaneously. I'd published a few short stories other places, but I was still nervous as I turned mine in—a story called "Hand of the Handless," set in a mostly unknown little city called Kaer Maga. A few days later, Wes Schneider and James Jacobs took me aside and told me that not only were they cool with my story, they were putting me in charge of the section. From that moment forward, I'd be the steward of the continuing adventures of Eando Kline, hiring the best authors I could find and helping them showcase the world of Golarion. I was twenty-three years old.
Over the next seven years, the Pathfinder's Journal and I grew together. Somewhere around the start of Curse of the Crimson Throne, we realized that Eando's adventures ought to have a point, and the grand arc we crafted took three whole adventure paths to complete. This odyssey was eventually compiled as The Compass Stone, and from there we gave Eando his well-deserved rest (or rebellion) and moved on to having authors write entire six-part novellas in each AP, including folks like Dave Gross, Elaine Cunningham, Wes Schneider, and more. A few years ago, as my job responsibilities started to include more and more management, I handed the journal off to Senior Editor Chris Carey and Developer Adam Daigle, who took the torch and ran with it.
I can't explain how important the journal has been to us, and especially to me. It was the constant process of developing—and often writing—chapters of those early journals that eventually convinced me I might have what it took to write a novel, and I know I wasn't the only one that learned from it. The Pathfinder Tales novel line grew directly out of the success of the journal, and it's no surprise that many authors—and even characters like Dave Gross's Varian and Radovan—leapt straight from journal to novels, with great aplomb.Yet probably the biggest impact the journal had was on the setting. In those early days, we were still building the Inner Sea region with every story, and tons of iconic characters and locations first saw the light of day there. It's where we learned about bloatmages and orc warbeasts, where we met Shoanti burn riders and Urglin gladiators and heard a serpentfolk's telepathic speech in our heads.
And now, almost a decade later, we're bringing it to a close. Starting with Pathfinder Adventure Path #115, the first of the Ironfang Invasion volumes, we'll be retiring the Pathfinder's Journal. (Fun fact: We were actually going to retire the section half a year earlier, then realized we'd be kicking ourselves forever if we didn't take the chance to let six different authors write six Lovecraftian stories!) The reasons for retirement are many, but in the end, it comes down to the fact that we just don't need it anymore. The journal was always about seeing Golarion through the eyes of its residents, rather than the omniscient overview of a GM. Today, we have the Pathfinder Tales novel line, with far more space in which to bring you the best stories, the most vibrant character, and the most detailed locations. It's the Pathfinder's Journal all grown up.
So what's going to be taking the Journal's place? In short: more! More and longer backmatter articles! Longer adventures! More monsters! More of all the material Pathfinder Adventure Path already provides to help you run your game. It's not my place to spoil what Crystal's got in store for you, but from what I've overheard the developers giggling about, it's going to be awesome. And for those readers who miss the fiction—come on over to the Pathfinder Tales section and let us hook you up.
Thanks to everyone who's read the journal all these years. We wouldn't be who we are without it—and without all of you.
James L. Sutter